Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Situated Advocacy: Reading Response 3

The Situated Technologies Pamphlet series concentrates on the exploration of the “implications of ubiquitous computing for architecture and urbanism. Specifically this series addresses how our experience of space and the choices we make within are affect by the range of mobile, persuasive, embedded, or otherwise situated technologies.” Within this text Bratton and Jeremijenko discuss self-advocacy, environmental protection, and various human rights and social injustices. To address these issues both Bratton and Jeremijenko take a close look at the value of data collection and the importance of its purpose and more importantly how those doing the collecting sway its importance and presentation.

In regard to data collection, they present us with many examples of devices that utilize different types of sensors to detect non-human organisms to provide important information about their conditions. Thus allowing a new form of data collection and ultimately an important, useful, and informed method for activating data to spark change and awareness.

I was specifically interested in the “Death of the User” section of the text (pgs. 51-53). Specific to my work/ideas and that of many other current artists, how we structure non-human agency poses a great opportunity to integrate non-humans at the instigation point of distributed interactions where the otherwise human user would be. By biodiversifying who is represented in agricultural, urban, and suburban contexts humans pay closer attention to those with which we cohabitate. More importantly by investigating data found from works that sense non-humans we can “reconsider structures of ownership, including private property and how it extends to these non-human agents in the environmental commons”.

Though I agree with much of what Jeremijenko discusses in this section and feel that she is calling attention to very important ideas, I do not agree that the user, in Bratton’s terms, has “died”. Rather, I feel that the user has simply changed from human to non-human. Though many would argue that non-human organisms cannot be users because they do not comprehend their actions, there are many accounts where data of human behavior is being collected and they too are not aware that they have the ability to manipulate data (i.e. using hidden cameras and infrared sensors to track a particular event in any project).

Ultimately what is important that through these non-human sensing works, we can begin to recognize a “non-human-centric world” and can begin to see to see a non-human point of view that would allow us to act upon our surroundings and provide better solutions for our environment issues.

Feral geese, like other populations of urban animals are either disdained, hunted, or at best ignored. They are not the 'wildlife' that environmentalists heroically seek to protect, and yet their survival testifies to a functioning urban ecosystem - they have critical functional, remediative and arguably redemptive roles to play in an urban ecosystems that are poorly understood. They are the most hopeful of environmental agents precisely because they demonstrate adaptive strategies that we have not observed before, and do not understand. There is a great deal to learn from them. Moreover, they demonstrate that we and our urban environment are inside nature, not separate or distinct from it. When animals make autonomous choices to inhabit places that we do not recognize as 'natural' they teach us that we live in something natural.

OOZ takes the urban animal habitats that animals themselves have initiated as its starting point. These contexts provide an opportunity to learn what the resources and structures animals themselves have exploited by directing our attention to the architectural and adaptive innovations these nonhumans have made

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